In a time when major technological advancements are happening at incredible rates and where demands for next-generation systems are constantly growing, advancements in failure analysis methods must constantly be developed, as well. Performance and safety are always top concerns for high-risk complex systems, and therefore, it is important for new failure analysis methods to be explored in order to obtain more useful and comprehensive failure information as early as possible, particularly during early design phases when detailed models might not yet exist. Therefore, this paper proposes a qualitative, function-based failure analysis method for early design phases that is capable of not only analyzing potential failure modes for physical components, but also for any manufacturing processes that might cause failures, as well. In this paper, the proposed method is first described in general and then applied in a case study of a proposed design for a nanochannel DNA sequencing device. Lastly, this paper discusses how more advanced and detailed analyses can be incorporated into this approach during later design phases, when more failure information becomes available.

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